Medline: 8493302

Psychosomatics 34(3): 208-221, 1993.

Psychopathology of pancreatic cancer. A psychobiologic probe.

Green AI, Austin CP


Reports of characteristic psychiatric symptoms occurring in patients with pancreatic cancer appear regularly in the literature. A review of this literature reveals that symptoms of depression and/or anxiety may appear in approximately 50% of patients with pancreatic cancer before the diagnosis is made. This review proposes that the psychopathology of pancreatic tumors may be linked to tumor-induced changes in neuroendocrine or acid-base systems. Although confirmatory data are lacking, informed speculation centers on the potential role of adrenocorticotropic hormone, parathyroid hormone, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, glucagon, serotonin, insulin, and bicarbonate in the production of depression and/or anxiety in this disease. Elucidation of the pathophysiology of the psychiatric symptoms in patients with pancreatic cancer may provide a marker for early diagnosis of pancreatic neoplasia as well as a probe into the biologic bases of depression and anxiety.

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